The Wedding Present: Corduroy
or approximately seven seconds near the end of the Wedding Present’s “Corduroy” (the single version, that is; it hits on the re-recorded Seamonsters album version at about 2:36, but lasts about the same span), time stands still. It’s an anxious silence where the building tension of the song hangs in the air alongside the humming amps, head Weddoe David Gedge’s voice hanging onto the last word, and the residue of the previous chord. It is the aural equivalent of the awkward pause in conversation, with perhaps a bit of the thousand-yard stare thrown in. But to really get the full impact, one must look at what came before and what comes after.
Before: Our narrator unravels one of his trademark conversational yarns about relationships and the problems and joys thereof. This one concerns our hero and his ex-girlfriend of some time past who apparently he was in love with and got dumped by in something of a cruel fashion. Trusts have been betrayed and feelings have most definitely been hurt. The chorus tells of looking at old photographs featuring the smiling, corduroy-clad boy he was before the breakup, only to hear him heartbreakingly confess that he “threw all those away” in its aftermath. He is with someone else now, but it is clear that the woman is proposing they get back together, having just dumped her current beau. Although if it is for the long haul or just some short-term boot-knocking we can’t be sure.
And this leaves us with the questions of the hour: Is he going to give it another shot? Is he going to tell her off? Is he too hurt by the past to ever consider going back, despite his stated feelings for her before? Can he ever trust her again?
It all is left hanging up in the air, and that silence sums up that moment of indecision perfectly. Spinning out of the tail end of the chorus, (“You’ve not changed at all”) it lingers there, waiting for resolution.
That resolution comes in the body of the instrumental mayhem that follows. Sparked back into action by a loud clapping noise (or maybe a snap? Something breaking, perhaps? Bones? Hearts?), the spiraling guitar break that finishes the track is the very picture of anguish and indecision, spinning out of control just as our poor narrator’s head must be by this point. It sounds almost like a tortured scream of confusion, punctuated by punishing snare rolls, but it could just as easily express the rush of emotions flooding back into his head, or of the embrace as he takes his ex-lover back in his arms and kisses her passionately, blindly choosing love over all else. It might be the sound of the explosive telling-off the woman gets as Gedge’s rage finally bubbles to the surface. No simple answers are given, just the intensity of the noise clearly illustrating the intensity of the feelings. If the silence marked that moment of hesitation, then the noise surely represents the outpouring of whatever that decision ended up being.
As to what that decision was—well, that’s up to each individual listener to decide on his or her own. But it all comes back to that perfect pause, which manages to say more than most lyrics could ever hope to.